The temporal relationship between rapid climate shifts in the Northern and Southern Hemispheres at the end of the last glacial is crucial to understanding how the global climate system functions during periods of major transition. A detailed Southern Hemisphere mid-latitude pollen record from a climatically sensitive and well-dated upland site in New Zealand, unlike previous interpretations, shows clear evidence of late-glacial climate changes similar in structure to those in the Northern Hemisphere, including a cooling interval from ca. 11 600 to 10 700 14C yr B.P. Because the cooling interval occurred ca. 600 14C yr before the Younger Dryas chron, our record thus also suggests that some global climatic events during the last deglaciation may have registered earlier in the Southern Hemisphere.